On Wednesday, John McAfee, the eccentric security software pioneer who sought to live as a hedonistic outsider while avoiding a slew of legal issues, was discovered dead in his prison cell in Barcelona.
His death happened only hours after a Spanish court ordered his extradition to the United States to face tax accusations that may land him in prison for decades, according to officials.
McAfee’s legal troubles spanned Tennessee, Central America, and the Caribbean, and he was a cryptocurrency advocate, tax opponent, U.S. presidential contender, and fugitive who openly embraced drugs, weapons, and sex. He was wanted for questioning in connection with the death of his neighbor in Belize in 2012, but he was never prosecuted.
The corpse of McAfee was discovered in the Brians 2 prison in northeastern Spain. According to a statement from the regional Catalan government, security officers attempted to resuscitate him, but the jail’s medical staff eventually declared his death.
The announcement said, “A judicial delegation has arrived to examine the reasons for death.” “Everything points to a suicide death.”
McAfee’s death was announced after Spain’s National Court found in favor of deporting McAfee, 75, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by Tennessee prosecutors were politically motivated and that if he were returned to the United States, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
The court’s decision was made public on Wednesday and is subject to appeal; any final extradition order must also be approved by the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee was detained at Barcelona’s international airport last October and has been held in custody since then while extradition processes are completed. The arrest came after he was charged with tax evasion in Tennessee the same month for failing to declare revenue from promoting cryptocurrency while doing consultancy work, giving speeches, and selling the rights to his life storey for a documentary.
The criminal charges carried a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.
McAfee’s Chicago-based attorney, Nishay Sanan, stated over the phone that McAfee “will always be known as a warrior.”
“He wanted to love this nation, but the United States government made it difficult for him to exist,” Sanan added. “They attempted, but failed, to obliterate him.”
Born John David McAfee in Gloucestershire, England, in 1945, he moved to Virginia as a child and grew up troubled, according to Steve Morgan, who spent time with McAfee in Alabama in 2016 to talk about his life for a biography he’d been hired to write. McAfee’s father “beat him mercilessly” and killed himself with McAfee’s shotgun when the boy was 15, Morgan said.
“He told me his father never showed him one ounce of affection,” Morgan claimed, adding that McAfee only sobbed once throughout their long encounter while describing his father’s death.
While his turbulent life has overshadowed McAfee’s tech legacy in recent years, Morgan believes his most enduring influence was as a software and security pioneer.
McAfee established his own firm in 1987. Morgan said he was working with his brother-in-law and managing a BBS, a bulletin board system that functioned as a predecessor to the World Wide Web, at the time. When the first significant computer virus appeared, it was dubbed “When “Brain” was released in 1986, “John immediately contacted a programmer he knew and told him, “There’s a tremendous opportunity.” Something must be done.”
Intel, which paid $7.68 billion for McAfee’s firm in 2011, tried for a while to separate the brand from its controversial creator by integrating it into its bigger cybersecurity division. However, the rebranding was short-lived, as Intel’s cybersecurity division was split off into a separate business called McAfee in 2016.